Arriving in Baltra we will take a shuttle to Santa Cruz Island, journeying across the island into the highlands. Here, you will be amazed by the island's variety of wildlife and geology. Beginning at the coast and traveling north along the road to Puerto Ayora, the road climbs through the agricultural zone and into the mist-covered forests of the highlands. Santa Cruz possesses all of the various life zones present on the archipelago, with wonderful birding opportunities, like Darwin's finches almost every land bird present on the islands can be found here. In the highlands we will stop at a ranch for lunch, and you will be able to explore the grounds in search of tortoises. After we will visit the Lava Tunnels (pending arrival flight times). Descending through the agricultural zone into the Transition Zone where the Tortoise Reserve is located, the introduced vegetation of the farmlands is replaced by native vegetation. Then, we will continue to Puerto Ayora for the rest of the afternoon and having some leisure time.
(Lunch & Accommodations, Santa Cruz Island)
After breakfast, transfer by boat to Isabela Island. Here you'll visit the Flamingo's Lagoon, where usually you can see flamingos feeding. After this, continue on to visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, where you will learn more about the reproduction and breeding of the tortoises.
After lunch, you will take a short excursion to the Tintoreras Islets, located just offshore from the town of Puerto Villamil. Here the rocky landscape is home to blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, white-tipped sharks and sea lions. Return to Puerto Villamil for dinner and overnight accommodations.
(Breakfast, Santa Cruz Island; Lunch & Accommodations, Isabela Island)
Today we will visit a unique place on the islands, "Los Tuneles". Our day starts with a 45-minute speed boat trip. Our experienced captain will securely lead us across the waves that normally hide this treasure. The Tunnels were formed millions of years ago when rivers of liquid magma ran across the island reaching its coastal shore. The cold water froze their superficial layer isolating the interior while liquid magma kept flowing into the sea. When the eruption finished, a hollow structure was formed and its wall later broke allowing water to seep inside, creating a tunnel.
Our guide will join us along hundreds of tunnels while we snorkel and encounter marine life such as sharks, lobsters, penguins, sea lions, boobies, marine turtles among other endemic species of the Galapagos. A snack will be served on board our boat. If lucky enough, we will have the chance to see giant manta rays feeding in open water.
(Breakfast, Lunch & Accommodations, Isabela Island)
After breakfast, visit the Sierra Negra volcano. We will have a walk of about 2 hours to reach the crater of the volcano. There we will have a wonderful view of the crater and with a little bit of luck, we will be able to see the sparrow hawk of the Galapagos. We will get to know the geology of the Sierra Negra Volcano. Most of the part of this island was formed by AA lava. In the afternoon you will head for Santa Cruz Island (2.5 hour boat ride).
(Breakfast & Lunch, Isabela Island; Accommodations, Santa Cruz Island)
After breakfast, we will visit Charles Darwin Station. The center is a reservoir of information on habitats and local conservation, as well as other fascinating relevant statistics. The most striking attraction of this station is certainly the Tortoise Breeding Center, where it is possible to view tortoises of varied sizes and shapes. Travelers here can freely walk and get their photos clicked with the tortoises. Among other inhabitants at the center, you can see the land and marine iguanas and different species of birds. Then you have a transfer to the airport in Baltra, so you can take your flight back to Quito or Guayaquil and continue on to your next Avanti destination!
(Breakfast, Santa Cruz)